Happy Almost Thanksgiving!
If you are in frantic, freak-out mode, please know that’s how I feel every night when I have to cook dinner! And, yet somehow we all eat.
Below is my most recent post in The Florida Times-Union. It’s all about sturdy gratitude – the kind that’s imperfect and the kind we tend to need most because life can often be more freak out than fine china.
Enjoy this holiday and the many blessings in your life. And, know that I count you among mine. ~ Love, Lara
On Thanksgiving, it’s easy to wonder why the picture of your holiday sometimes looks like a dysfunctional diorama instead of a page out of the Pottery Barn catalog. The mute, lifeless images of a burning hearth, spice-scented candles, tables set with garlands of leaves, vases of burnt-colored flowers, and origami-shaped napkins folded into gold leaf-embossed rings set an impossible standard.
Sometimes I wonder if they look so perfect because there aren’t actually people in those images.
As the annual host of my family’s Thanksgiving, I send a group text the Sunday night before the big holiday and ask everyone what they are bringing. We push two picnic tables together in the backyard and set up another folding table with mismatched chairs. Because I’m fancy and I read my mom’s discarded issues of Southern Living magazine, I cover the tables with tablecloths and do my best to make some kind of centerpiece out of what I can find in the yard or lanterns that I keep in the garage. I buy paper plates with harvest designs along with complementing cutesy paper napkins and I congratulate myself on my hosting skills.
And, I’m grateful.
It’s not that I can’t appreciate all of the fineries. It’s just that one of the things I’m most grateful for is that I’ve learned to accept imperfection and even see the strength in it. The way it shines despite being more Goodwill than good china.
It’s easy to think of gratitude as only the best things in life — the pretty pictures and perfect settings. The prestigious titles, gifted children, and magazine-perfect houses – any of the colorful accolades or achievements that we can fan like prize turkeys are easily recognized as blessings. But genuine abiding gratitude, the kind that sustains us through loss, disappointment, and failure isn’t showy so much as it is sturdy. It’s the kind of gratitude we cultivate by noticing the way big things appear small like the simplicity of a goodnight kiss or how the hungry feel after a hot meal no matter how mediocre it tastes. It’s the gratitude the grieving feels to have loved so deeply; the appreciation the lonely have for the person who for a moment made them feel seen, or the relief a young person experiences when they feel accepted.